Alright, so I realize that I have slacked on posting...life has been chaotic for our family. Between doing a half marathon, my husband's crazy schedule, the holidays, flus & colds, extensive travel, house repairs, managing a toddler, and general busy-ness of everyday life, my little blog has suffered. Everyone is busy, I know! But after I made this bread, yesterday, I was motivated to post again. It was that good. Especially if you're into rustic food. This bread would be amazing with the hearty soups of this season, along stews, and as a sandwich bread. I'd even use it as the foundation of a broiled caprese toast (think pesto, fresh mozzarella, vine-ripe tomatoes).
If you have seen any of my other posts, you will see that I am insanely into this nice woman named Nancy Baggett and her fabulous bread cookbook, Kneadlessly Simple. By the way, the book has gone down in price on Amazon. And how can you not want to make something from someone that emails you back every time you email her with a question?! Anyway, I was so excited about this bread because it reminds me of the fantastic Italian bread served at Maggiano's Corner Bakery (in Chicago area). I usually get the tuna salad on this kind of olive bread and never imagined I could make something like it at home! And so easily!
The bread is very easy to make--you just have to patiently wait and go about living your life--which shouldn't be hard considering the holidays are around the corner...right? However, I will confess that while in a hurry, I misread the directions after the second rise, and let the bread rise on the counter instead of the fridge overnight. Imagine my surprise to see that the bread STILL turned out amazingly well--I'm not saying I recommend doing what I did, just that it was surprising to see that the dough continued to rise, air pockets were visible, the crust was intact, and it tasted wonderful with a piece of hard goat cheese and a crisp apple. YUM! Enjoy!
Make the basic white version if it's your first time making a bread, or add in the kalamata olives and fresh rosemary like I did (I brought in my outdoor plant and somehow it's surviving inside!)--you will be very surprised that you can make a bread with the same quality of that at your local European bakery.
NOTE: The crust softens if you store the bread in plastic wrap or plastic bags.